Release Date(s)2012 (January 15, 2013)
Studio(s)20th Century Fox
- Film/Program Grade: C-
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: B+
- Extras Grade: C
The first Taken was a big surprise to a lot of people. A dark thriller that introduced the now half-dozen film strong “Liam Neeson Kicks Ass” (LNKA) genre, it took its time establishing its characters and delivered solid action. Neeson played a father who got back into his daughter’s life too late, after the stepfather has stepped in and filled his shoes. When she made the mistake of going to Europe alone and got kidnapped, it was up to him to use his secret agent skills to get his daughter back and exact his revenge on her abductors.
Taken 2 picks up a few years later. The family is on the mend and the stepdad is out of the picture. While working in Istanbul, Neeson is surprised to have a visit from his ex-wife and their daughter. But wackiness insures when the brother of his nemesis from the previous film kidnaps his wife as part of a revenge plot. Neeson warns his daughter to escape and then surrenders himself to the bad guys to get his wife back. You can probably guess what happens next.
Shot entirely on film, Taken 2 still looks like a digital production thanks to extensive color grading and other processing. The high-def image, while retaining fine detail, is virtually grain-free and remains impressive throughout. The ancient grime of Istanbul gives the film a great amount of texture, character and flavor that will make any HD lover happy. The lossless audio mix is serviceable, with some nice dynamic range and use of the surround space. Especially good are the explosions of the grenades that our hero uses to try to determine his position. There’s a huge amount of dynamic range, echo and reflection that I found particularly impressive. In the end, there’s nothing about Taken 2’s technical presentation that would turn you off, but aside from a few aural delights there’s also nothing that will make you run out and buy it for demo material either.
The biggest marquee extra for Taken 2 is of course the unrated version of the film, which adds a few scant extra minutes of violence. This would have given the film an “R” rating, but I’m still completely confused how the film avoided an “R” in the first place. A batch of deleted scenes (obviously fresh off the AVID as their time code accompanies it) and an alternate ending is also included. An overview of the weapons of the film and a Q&A with Neeson completes the package.
Taken 2 is not a great movie. It’s basically a mirror image of the first one, without the urgency and novelty that made it special. But if you liked the first film, this is worth a Redbox rental just to satisfy your curiosity. Only fans of LNKA and violence enthusiasts need apply – the rest of you will find the most value in Taken 2 as something to put on while you’re cleaning house that doesn’t take a lot of thought or attention to follow.
- Jeff Kleist